Students, grades, homework assignments, lesson plans…so much to keep track of, and it’s all hinging on your ability to stay organized this year. You’re probably so busy trying to brush up on new policies and procedures and figuring out how you’re going to fit an extra 10 pages worth of lesson planning into your already bulging-at-the-seams schedule every week to even entertain the idea of coming up with new ideas to engage your students and enhance learning.
Luckily, one of the reasons we created TRUTH In Teaching is to provide you with tools and resources to alleviate some of that stress. There’s a lot that goes into planning a website, believe it or not. It’s not just a slap-some-content-up-on-a-blog-and-be-done-with-it kind of initiative. So we rely on organizational tools of our own to coordinate our efforts, brainstorm ideas, and document all the wonderful ideas and requests we’re receiving from the TRUTH community. (Keep those coming, by the way – we love it!)
Trello is one tool we’ve relied on pretty heavily to date, and it’s such a versatile and useful — yet incredibly simplistic — tool that we quickly realized the potential value it has for educators.
Trello uses a very simple and intuitive framework with Lists and Cards, which act as items on a List. A set of lists and cards is called a Board, and you can view a single Board at a time. It looks something like this:
Each vertical column is its own List, and each item within a List is a Card. Here’s the great part: Cards can be easily moved from one list to another just by clicking, dragging, and dropping it with your mouse.
Every Card can have a due date, description, and an endless number of comments. Additionally, you can assign other team members to individual cards and attach documents or files, and even include checklists within Cards. A list within a list, which is pretty much every Type-A Personality’s dream. Here’s an example of what a Checklist looks like within an open Card:
But that’s not all. Cards can be further labeled using color-coded tags, defined however you see fit. In the example below, I’ve labeled various colors to indicate the urgency or status of each task:
Note that you can assign more than one label to a Card, as I’ve assigned the Card shown with both the “Working On” and “Urgent – Top Priority” labels. You can re-assign the names for each color by clicking, “Change label names for board” underneath the color-coded bars.
Because Cards can be easily dragged and dropped between Lists and moved between Boards, re-prioritizing tasks and projects couldn’t be simpler. But just to make sure that you stay on track, Trello also automatically highlights upcoming due dates in yellow and red so you can quickly see what’s urgent or recently past due and organize your workflow accordingly.
So what does all of this mean for you? There are endless ways to use Trello to organize your professional and personal life, such as:
- brainstorming new lesson plan ideas
- planning classroom rules and procedures
- creating a weekly schedule, with a List for each day of the week
- collaborating on curriculum planning
- creating boards for each class, for each student, subject, or lesson
- facilitating student projects
- assigning homework or projects, tracking due dates, and storing filed assignments
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and our bet is you’re already thinking about the many ways you can use Trello to maintain your sanity this year — depending on how much it costs, of course. The good news: It’s free. Forever.
That said, there are some enhanced features and functionality available with paid plans. If you want cool stuff like stickers and emoji, you can upgrade to Trello Gold for $5 per month or $45 per year. Oh, and you can change the background color of your Boards with Trello Gold.
There’s also Trello Business Class, for organizations that want to take advantage of the features of Trello Gold while maintaining full visibility and control over all Boards created within the Organization. Trello Business Class is priced at $5 per user, per month, or $45 per user, per year. But you get all the core and essential Trello features with a basic, free account, and odds are you’ll find plenty of features to keep you busy (but organized) this year for free.
Are you using Trello to organize your lesson plans or classroom schedule? Is there another organizational tool that totally trumps Trello? Tell us about it! Email your ideas for using Trello to Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Angela at email@example.com, or tell us what tools you want to hear about.